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Letter from a war zone

My husband is in the final throes of sorting out all the belongings and memories from his parents. He has done his brothers, nephews and nieces an extraordinary service that they will never understand or acknowledge, by scanning all the genealogy information, photographs, and other keepsakes. One of those came to light today, one (I think) that I must have seen before, but read with new eyes and ears.

It was a letter from my husband’s grandfather from Gallipoli, in World War I in 2016, to his mother. Australians, New Zealanders, Turks, and some Brits all understand Gallipoli. Few others know about the battles there, but they were tremendously important to us, our history, and our sense of nationhood. I wrote about Gallipoli and the ANZACs here back in 2012.

Mostyn, the Husband’s grandfather, letter was published in full in the local newspaper about 30 years ago, and tracked the days from leaving Cairo, landing at Gallipoli, until he was wounded and sent home a few weeks later. He was lucky. Many young New Zealanders and Australians didn’t make it, thanks in no small part to questionable leadership from their British commanders. His words were cautious, but he still talked (albeit briefly) about the horrors of battle – chatting to someone one minute – seeing them cut down the next, and the struggles they had over difficult terrain and conditions. Having been to Gallipoli, reading it in 2023 meant that I could picture it so much better now, and really understand where he had been.

Whilst it might not have been pleasant reading, having that first person account available is indeed a taonga (treasure). I hope the next generations of the family, especially those living in Australia, truly appreciate this.


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